Visual media plays an increasingly important role in events these days. With that in mind, Michael recently hit me up with an idea for his latest ‘Dutch Flowerz‘ feature – a post that would give us the opportunity to showcase imagery (something I’ve seen Trusik do extremely well) here on FKOF2.0 – while sticking with his theme of highlighting the creativity coming out of The Netherlands…
Thanks to his constant involvement on the bleeding edge, the next interviewee here on FatKidOnFire is someone who knows the trade intimately. Ali Mousavi is one of the most highly regarded dubstep event photographers in The Netherlands – and we’re excited to bring you an insight into the thoughts of the man behind the lens.
Ali and I conducted this interview during the first festival of the 2013 season. Paaspop is held once a year in the village of Schijndel, where we met (at a quiet spot on somebody’s driveway just outside the festival gates) on a cold Easter morning.
A fence had been temporarily placed to close off the yard – while also closing off the ditch surrounding the house. Between us and the numerous festival tents, a group of anxious horses were standing in a fenced field. As surreal as it gets; but also a typical view for festival visitors in Holland.
Hi Ali, thanks for making the time to talk. How did you get into event photography? I got to know Rosa Maria Koolhoven back in 2009. She took me to my first dubstep night (hosted by Oi! Recordings). Skream and Benga played b2b that night. I liked it right away!
What part of the experience made you want to get into event photography? At the time, I partied a lot and was just starting with photography – it looked like a good idea to combine the two. I noticed none of the photographers in the field seemed to be really working purposefully – whereas Rosa was really involved. She had done the first couple of photoshoots for Dub Police – and a while later did Rusko’s first releases as well. On top of that, she documented the first few years of the Oi! Recordings nights in Holland. I love her work and I was able to learn a lot from her.
[N-Type during his set at Paaspop 2013 © Ali Mousavi]
What are the most important, but not necessarily apparent, areas of event photography? It’s important to get a feel for the different moves a DJ has. N-Type does this thing where he puts his headphones next to his eyes. I think it’s something that he’s known for. Photographing him on many occasions has given me insight into the cycles of his body language. Being photographer for Oi! for a few years also taught me a lot. It has been a process of finding better and more efficient ways to take pictures.
Newer photographers can often show they are affected by the whole stage thing – this can sometimes cause them forget to capture the whole party. Basically, everyone at the party is focused on the stage and don’t seem to notice what goes on around them. Capturing different and unique angles of the whole experience is very important – as when people see the pictures afterwards they should be able see what they’ve missed out on.
Could you share any other suggestions newer photographers should look out for? The most important factor is commitment. It means that you also do jobs well – which seem a bit less interesting.
It takes time to build a large and solid network. There are perhaps better photographers than me out there, but I’m very dedicated. Don’t let the quality of your work suffer from your own personal interests. If you really like a certain artist don’t force their attention. Let things flow naturally and they will.
[Gomes at Paaspop 2013 © Ali Mousavi]
What three words would you use to describe your work? I would like to say artistic?! But also abstract and infamous.
Why infamous? When I lived in New York with the owner of Methods Clothing, he often called me the infamous photographer. I didn’t really know what the word meant until a couple of months ago.
There was a time that he got us into a Excision show. It was in Best Buy Theatre on Times Square and we got backstage passes. After being sent off the stage while photographing I got really angry. The backstage area of Excision’s show was just insane. It had things like caviar, melons and avocados. I lost the plot and kicked the whole table onto the floor, emptied a bottle of vodka on it, and threw the bottle against the wall.
It might have nothing to do with my work, but the nickname really stayed with me.
You’ve traveled a lot in the past few years. Has this changed you at all? I lived in the US back when dubstep just really started to explode. Americans easily invest into something that has potential and they seemingly have the power to make it big. Being there really helped me to become more professional. My many travels have also given me the chance to really think a lot about life…
[Joker at Paaspop 2013 © Ali Mousavi]
Who are your favorite dubstep artists? They would be DJ Gomes and Trolley Snatcha. Mainly because we are personally close! I also recently decided to help two of my close friends with their project: ‘Benskir‘ so I’ve got them high on my list – check them out if you can. I also really like Noisia. Those guys get about 70 international bookings a year, that’s like two flights every weekend! Considering where they come from that’s a real achievement.
Are there any specific technical details of your work you would like to share? I prefer to work with a full-frame and always probably will. As for brand, it would have to be Canon. I always saw my dad working with a Canon, so it was a natural choice. It’s a matter of taste in a sense though.
I often use a fish-eye (and my work is known for it) but my favorite lens right now is the 85mm 1.8.
Have you got any upcoming projects you can tell us about? I’ve got good ones coming up with Puna and Top Notch. Puna is a Dutch hip-hop blog and Top Notch is a Dutch label. There’s also a photoshoot for Bavaria 8.6 (a Dutch beer brand) that’s planned. And I’ve just finished an extended presskit for Trolley Snatcha.
Have you got any shoutouts to conclude? A big shoutout to Oi!, Gomes, 50 Hurtz, Tastic and Donneth and Benskir. Also shoutouts to Trolley and Rosa – as well as to Dave Gee from Methods Clothing, Kraantje Pappie and the whole Groningen gang!